Design Thinking and the Circular Economy

In the Fast Company post, Ideo Says The Future Of Design Is Circular, Adele Peter shares that Designers are now considering the entire system and design products with materials that can be used in closed loops.

The Circular Design Guide, a new tool from IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organization that works with companies like Google to transition to the circular economy, explains how it works.

“Businesses can no longer ignore the cost of the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ model, both to the Earth and to their bottom line,” – says Chris Grantham, who led Ideo’s work on the guide from its London office.

“Design is central in this transition to the circular economy,” Grantham says. “As a result, any designer working in a modern commercial setting must understand the key principles and be able to apply them in their work.”

It takes a shift in mindset. “Designers and entrepreneurs tend to be familiar with designing for an end user,” he says. “Effective circular design looks beyond a single product lifecycle for a single user, to designing a bigger system—one that creates more value by enabling multiple usages and users of that material.”

When Philips designed its light-as-a-service model, it created custom light fixtures with components that can be individually replaced, saving material and making the lights last as much as 75% longer.

As you think about your product and services, consider the circular economy and how Design Thinking can help you.